Review: Cal Wilson: Gifted Underachiever at the Victoria Room

By Flora Norton

Cheerful and personable, Cal Wilson presents her show ‘Gifted Underachiever’ with contagious enthusiasm, making her audience feel comfortable within seconds of her walking on stage. She is witty, clever and relatable and talks with a breed of honesty and modesty that is rare amongst modern comedians.


If you find the black humour and political commentary that so often dominates comedy shows too heavy, then this light-hearted contemplation on the trivialities of life may be the show you’ve been waiting for.


Skirting the controversial and the critical, Wilson chats to us instead about coming to terms with being middle aged and the irks and inconveniences of everyday life. She complains about slow people in elevators and incompetent shop assistants with mock-anger, acknowledging at the same time that her misplaced irritability may be a consequence of her steady ageing.


Her content is accessible to most ages with her tirade about the vexes of Instagram and modern technology touching a nerve with every generation in the room. Similarly, her comic discussion of her husband’s various shortcomings and quirks brings a knowing smile to every child, spouse and parent in the room. The audience is animated and engaged, with mothers nudging daughters and wives whispering to their husband’s, ‘You so do that.’


However, her humour may well exclude the very young, the very old and the very prudish since a large part of her show is dedicated to a discussion of her husband’s sexual strategies and Wilson knows exactly how to conjure an unwanted mental image. As Wilson tells of her husband’s desire to ‘kick her pussy’ and the grievances of autocorrect, the audience erupts with laughter as they struggle to associate this crudity with the seemingly innocent woman in front of them. The show is punctuated with sexual inuendo and the absurdity of the repeated references to shelving is not lost on the audience who cover their face in their hands, laughing in spite of themselves, quite comfortable in their own discomfort.


Wilson’s show is upbeat and lively for most of the hour and yet she, like many of her contemporaries, recognises the power of her platform and touches on some issues close to her heart. Aside from a brief comedic anecdote about her son dating a fruit bat, Wilson’s discussion of transgender issues is serious and pointed, and she speaks earnestly and openly about the necessity for her generation to grow up. She highlights the importance of learning to distinguish between what is wrong, and what is different and preaches love and respect for everyone, no matter what or who they are.


Despite being far from the comedy I usually enjoy, Wilson’s show was full of surprises and was ultimately an hour of warm, good-natured comedy for the whole family to enjoy.


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All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.

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